Chet Manning is the chief troubleshooter for South and West Railroad, working under District Superintendent, Asa Blaine. As Asa’s chief troubleshooter, it’s Chet’s job to protect the railroad from the trickery, robbery and murder that are commonplace in the old west.
Chet has just managed to kill off the head of a gang working for S & W’s chief rival, Western Pacific Railroad. The two railroads are in a race to lay new tracks through New Mexico. The first railroad to reach Apache Pass will own the gateway to the southwest.
Chet lives and breathes railroad and he’s learned that he can get the job done the easy way or the hard way. Being a troubleshooter is oftentimes a bloody business and Chet is well-known as a man not to be messed with. In Die Hard, Chet’s new trouble comes from Glory Harpe, a woman out to revenge the killing of her husband. Chet barely made it out of that showdown alive. His nerves are frayed and deep down he wonders if he’s turned yellow. Now Chet must face even more danger, in the form of cold-blooded killer, Trig Forbes, a hired gun working for Glory. Trig Forbes is a crazy outlaw born with blood in his eyes.
Chet also has a weakness for women and he finds himself troubled by two here. Chet has a continuing romance with Asa’s niece, Netta and there’s a new woman in town, Rosa, drawing Chet’s roving eye.
On top of all this, he has a new assistant troubleshooter, Hank Bolden. Hank is formerly of the Butterfield Detective Agency in Fort Worth, Texas. Chet’s been warned by his other troubleshooters that there is something snaky about Hank, but he has no hard evidence for his dislike.
Die Hard is the second book in the continuing western saga of Chet Manning. Troubleshooter was the first one I read. This book nicely summarizes the first, so you won’t feel lost if you haven’t read it. The dialogue is a bit wooden, but the writing is simple. I do have a bit of a problem with the gratuitous violence towards women that seems to be a common theme in these books so far. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed it. This is a quick, short and gritty read; a classic western tale featuring shootouts and revenge.